On January 25 Minister of National Defence of Lithuania, Juozas Olekas and his Polish and Ukrainian counterparts, respectively, Minister of National Defence Antoni Macierewicz and Minister of Defence General of the Army Stepan Poltorak inaugurated headquarters of the joint Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade (LITPOLUKBRIG) at a ceremony in Lublin.
The three Defence Ministers also discussed the progress and prospects of the LITPOLUKRBRIG project, security situation in Ukraine and Ukraine’s defence reforms, and perspectives of further cooperation between the three nations.
Political and practical significance of the project underscored
“LITPOLUKRBRIG demonstrates the strategic importance that Lithuania and Poland attach to bringing Ukraine closer to the Euro-Atlantic community,” Minister J.Olekas said at the LITPOLUKRBRIG HQ inauguration ceremony.
“Lithuanian-Polish cooperation, just like a stable and secure Ukraine, are critical for our security. Therefore both, Lithuanian and Polish security policy focuses on Ukraine,” Minister of National Defence said underscoring the shared security interests of Lithuania and Ukraine.
“I am certain that this project will reinforce our partnership just like it will the regional and wider security,” J.Olekas asserted.
While pointing to the practical significance of the project, the Minister said it would facilitate the achievement of the objective embedded in the Military Doctrine of Ukraine, i.e. the implementation of the armed forces reform and having it interoperable with NATO militaries by 2020.
Minister J.Olekas also recalled the joint Lithuanian-Polish Battalion LITPOLBAL established nearly two decades ago (1997–2008). The military unit formed cooperatively with a NATO ally enabled Lithuanian solders to adopt NATO military procedures, to prepared for NATO-led multinational operations as well as to get ready for integration into NATO’s military organisation.
Initial Operational Capability achieved
The inauguration ceremony of the LITPOLUKRBRIG HQ in Lublin marks the achievement of the Initital Operational Capability which is a military term for a stage when 90% of the staff personnel is already been composed, key documentation for the operation of the staff is in place, budget is approved, and the welfare conditions for the personnel and their families of the personnel and other conditions for the unit to operate are provided.
Lieutenant Colonel (Lithuanian Armed Forces) Eligijus Senulis has been assigned as the Chief of Staff of the LITPOLUKRBRIG. Representatives of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine are assigned to the positions of LITPOLUKRBRIG commander, deputy commander and chief of staff on a rotating basis of three years. The current LITPOLUKRBRIG commander is Brigadier General Adam Joks (Polish Armed Forces), second in command is Colonel (Ukrainian Army) Volodymir Yudanov.
Upon reaching the Full Operational Capability, the military and civilian HQ personnel will number roughly 100 while the entire brigade will be approx. 3.5-4 thousand-strong.
Minister underscored the importance of continued assistance to Ukraine’s armed forces reform
At the meeting with his Polish and Ukrainian counterparts in Lublin Minister J.Olekas underlined the progress achieved in Ukraine’s reforms, particularly in the area of security and defence.
Referring to the objective laid out in Ukraine’s Military Doctrine for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to be interoperable with NATO militaries by 2020, J.Olekas called it a good sign for Lithuania, Poland and other interested NATO allies attesting Ukraine’s firm resolve to complete the reform.
The Minister also reiterated Lithuania support to Ukraine in its armed forces reform in the meanwhile trying to coordinate the support with Poland and other allies closer.
Lithuania assists Ukraine in training its military personnel as unilateral support and also as part of multilateral projects.
Currently Lithuanian military instructors are training Ukraine’s regular units together with U.S., UK, and Canadian allies as part of the U.S.-led Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.
Last year Lithuanian soldiers took part in the U.S. Army-led initiative Fearless Guardian for training the National Guard of Ukraine.
Also, last year Lithuanian and U.S. military medics provided medical support and helped training Ukraine’s military medics.
A detachment of the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces’ soldiers joined the U.S.-led Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine last year to share experience with the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces.
Several more officers of the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces are providing consultations to representatives of the General Staff of Ukraine and leadership of the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces’ units on the development and organisation of special operations forces.
Officers, NCOs and soldiers of Ukraine are invited to study at various courses and training events in Lithuania, military training institutions: the Military Academy of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Armed Forces School, etc. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also provide financing for the studies of Ukrainian officers at the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia. Other areas of cooperation with Ukraine are arrangement of joint military exercises, etc.
The Ministers of Defence of the stablishing countries endorsed the agreement on establishing the trilateral Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG) in Warsaw on 19 September 2014.
The Brigade is formed following the model of multinational crisis response capabilities – European Union Battle Groups (EU BGs). The LITPOLUKRBRIG is made up of an international staff, three battalions and special-purpose units.
Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine each assigns an infantry battalion, and personnel for special-purpose units and the LITPOLUKRBRIG staff.
The LITPOLUKRBRIG personnel will participate in joint training and exercises, the Brigade or its elements will be deployed to international operations mandated by the United Nations Security Council, while decision regarding deployment of the LITPOLUKRBRIG to international operations will be made by general consent of all the establishing countries.
The LITPOLUKRBRIG battalions are held on standby in their home countries, and deploy in composition of LITPOLUKRBRIG in case a decision is made to activate the Brigade or any of its elements.
The Lithuanian contribution to the LITPOLUKRBRIG is formed from the personnel of the Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion. Personnel of the Battalion was also the source of the Lithuanian input into the joint Lithuanian-Polish Battalion LITPOLBAL in 1999–2008.
As embedded in the LITPOLUKRBRIG establishing agreement, other nations will be able to join the unit at the invitation of the establishing nations.